.- Several pro-life leaders urged prayer and justice in the wake of the Florida shooting of 17-year-old high school student Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch patrolman.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Trayvon, his young life cut so short,” said Day Gardner, founder of the National Black Prolife Union.
“As we pray for other lives lost, including those in the womb, it is important for us to remember that every life is sacred, from conception and fertilization until natural death. There was nothing natural about the killing of Trayvon, and we are saddened.”
Dr. Alveda King, niece of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said she is praying for Martin’s family.
“Senseless killing from the womb to the tomb must cease. Trayvon is yet another example of the slaying of an endangered species: America's youth,” King said in a March 27 statement from the Atlanta-based group King for America.
The Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Florida has become the center of a major controversy.
Martin was visiting his father’s fiancée in a gated community. That night, he was reportedly returning to her home from a convenience store after buying Skittles and an Arizona iced tea.
Martin’s girlfriend has said that she was on the phone with him that evening and he was worried he was being followed. She said a man asked Martin what he was doing in the neighborhood before she heard an apparent conflict on the other end and lost the connection.
The 28-year-old Zimmerman said that he was patrolling the neighborhood when he saw Martin and called police to report a suspicious person. He and Martin then allegedly exchanged words. Zimmerman claims that Martin punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground and that the teen began beating him and slamming his head into the sidewalk.
When they arrived to the scene, police found Martin dead from a gunshot wound. Zimmerman had a swollen nose, a swollen lip and bloody lacerations to the back of his head, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Although Zimmerman claims that the shooting was in self-defense, many civil rights leaders have objected to the lack of criminal charges against him, raising concerns that the patrolman racially profiled Martin. They said the shooting was not properly investigated and voiced concerns about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law which advocates self-defense.
Some pro-life leaders echoed their concerns.
“Trayvon Martin's death is senseless, and we are deeply grieved that a young man's future has been aborted and hidden under a cloak of Florida's ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” Alveda King said.
The leaders called for non-violent peaceful conflict resolution in the search for justice for Martin.
“The future of our community resides with our youth. We cannot allow our children to be victimized by stereotyping and fear,” said Pastor Stephen Broden of Fairpark Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
“However, we must allow the legal system to investigate the facts of this tragic situation and at the same time allow that same system to exact justice appropriate to the evidence.”